Monday, September 19, 2016

FANTASTIC FOUR #282

"INWARDS TO INFINITY!"
Script-Pencils: John Byrne | Inker: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Lettering: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Young Franklin Richards has a bizarre dream in which he’s chased by monsters across an alien landscape and meets an injured space horse, culminating with his crossing paths with the child super-team, Power Pack. Franklin then awakens and goes to tell his parents about the dream.

In the basement of Avengers’ Mansion, Reed has reconstructed his reducto-craft for a trip to the Microverse, though he’s uncertain the FF should leave Earth since the Beyonder is lurking about. But Sue’s vehement desire for revenge on Psycho-Man convinces Reed, and after leaving Franklin with Jarvis, the FF depart.

The reducto-craft is hit by an unknown force as it crosses the barrier to the Microverse. When the FF arrive, Reed and Johnny note that the realm seems different somehow. Johnny takes off to scout, but is captured, with the rest of the team joining him in short order. The Fantastic Four realize that they are prisoners of Psycho-Man, who is unexpectedly several times larger than them.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Franklin meets Power Pack. In subsequent years he would become a junior member of the child team under the codename Tattletale.


We’re reminded via footnote that the FF have been staying at Avengers' Mansion since issue 277. Soon after, another editorial note lets us know that the FF encountered the Beyonder on Earth in SECRET WARS II #2, and yet another note tells us that Reed, Johnny, and She-Hulk first met the Beyonder in the original SECRET WARS.


Sue compares her brainwashing by Hate Monger in issues 280 – 281 with rape, though not in so many words. When she expresses her need for vengeance, Johhny notes that she didn’t even seem this distraught after losing her baby in FF #267.


The Fantastic Four first visited the Microverse in issue 16. Johnny explains to She-Hulk that, at the time, they believed it to be a tiny realm within our own universe, but later determined it to actually be a parallel world. (Why, I don't know; the original concept seems much cooler.)


My Thoughts: This issue serves as a sort of “breather” between chapters of the ongoing Psycho-Man saga. As I noted a few issues back, this is Byrne’s longest storyline during his time on FANTASTIC FOUR. It began in issue 280 (following a prologue scene in 279) with the Hate Monger arc. That concluded in 281, and now the second act of the story begins in 282 as the FF prepare to head out and battle Psycho-Man.

But was that Byrne’s original intention? Based on comments I’ve seen from him, he tended to plot stories out pretty far in advance, usually at least a year. And it seems odd that the Hate Monger story was wrapped up unceremoniously in SECRET WARS II after all the development Byrne put into it. My suspicion is that Byrne intended to finish the Hate Monger story here and begin the Psycho-Man story next issue—but when Jim Shooter pulled rank and finished Hate Monger in SWII, Byrne had to fill 282 some other way.

Hence a nine-page dream sequence for Franklin which has nothing to do with the story at hand, followed by about five pages of the Fantastic Four arguing before they leave for the Microverse. Mind you, I have no evidence to back this theory up, but it just seems really weird that Byrne would drop a “downtime” issue into the middle of a five-part epic unless he was scrambling to fill space he hadn’t expected to fill.

Weirdly, this issue’s cover calls it out as a SECRET WARS II crossover, though none of that story’s events play out here. We simply get some comments about the Beyonder—another case of the issue not quite turning out as Byrne had intended? Perhaps there was meant to be more of a SWII tie-in here, but Shooter co-opted that material for the main mini-series instead?

The world may never know…!

3 comments:

  1. This was one of the first covers I remember from my brother's subscription way back when.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Given the less-related pages and the odd SECRET WARS II tag, it really does seem like Byrne was intending for the material that ended up in SECRET WAR II to be showcased here. It all just kinds of...fits.

    ReplyDelete

  3. // Reed and Johnny note that the realm seems different somehow. //

    I have something to say about this, but it involves spoilers for the next issue, so I’ll save my comment for said issue’s post.

    ReplyDelete